In the middle of that need for food, either before or during eating, stopping it from happening can feel impossible. In truth, it’s not impossible, but we choose the easier route by letting ourselves eat. There are plenty of other things that we could do instead of following our emotion down that rabbit hole, but a lot of us don’t. Why? Because we are certain that food will work. It’s not going to solve all the problems but you know for sure, like all the other times, it will propel you out of the despair and into mind numbness.
But there is another option, and that’s to try something new. These techniques won’t change how you feel as quickly as eating used to but they will open more doors. I’ve used all of these in the past and I still do, and each time it has been worth the push to get there.
Techniques for reducing the urge to eat
This technique works when your eating is tied in some way to your environment. For example, if you tend to eat at home when you are alone, and you are worried about thoughts coming through or about something you feel you have to do, the easy option is to stay sat on the couch and eat. The removal technique alters one of the elements that create the situation. The easiest of these to change is where you are. By getting up, getting your coat and going for a walk or getting up and going to clean out your wardrobe or getting up and sitting somewhere else, you interrupt the usual pattern and change what you are focusing on. This reduces the urgency for food by moving the view and so changing the focus. It causes a gap in the emotion and gives you some breathing space so you can get out your journal and start thinking about what you really want right at that moment.
Put it away.
You know why you want to eat, you feel the urge to eat coming and you don’t know what to do to get rid of it. Instead of going down the usual route, sit back, relax and admit to yourself that you have no idea what to do to make this better. Whatever the problem that is causing you to eat, you don’t have to solve it right now. It is the desperation to get rid of something that is causing the need for food. By surrendering to not knowing, by admitting you are at a loss and that’s okay, you don’t need to have all the answers. It removes the confusion and worry and lets you relax into where you are.
Forcing it out.
Before you feel the strong urges taking over, get out your journal and start making lists. Lists of everything you are grateful for in your life. Lists of all the people you love. Lists of all the things you liked about today or enjoyed doing. Make lists and lists of good things until you feel your mind shift from need and panic to calm and relaxed. Making lists forces you to think, so not only do they distract you from the need for food, they also focus the mind on better things.
Figure it out.
This is the heavier option but one I love to do. I’m a problem solver; it’s my favourite thing to do especially when it involves me. This option needs paper, pen and a big space. When you feel the urge, when you want to eat to get rid of a feeling, take out a big sheet of paper and at the top write down the problem that’s driving you to feel this way. You don’t need to be specific, you could just write ‘Job’ or ‘Relationship’ or ‘Future’. Now start filling the left hand side of the page with a list of how it currently looks and feels to you. Be specific, include as much detail as you can and include all the emotion it causes. When you have all those, go to the right hand side of the page and write a list of how you want it to look and feel like. Now using all that, start creating solutions of how you could change the left list to the right one at a time. For example, you could have written ‘I hate the work I do’ on the left and on the right written, ‘To love the work I do’. This gives you an action, something you can focus on. Put these actions at the bottom of the page and then keep working through until you have both lists crossed off. This method provides a feeling of movement and change, reassuring you that things can get better.
Take the first step and decide how much you are prepared to change. Not just what you do, what you eat and how you move, but you. You can’t be the same person with the same thoughts and emotions you have always had and expect to create something different. If your mind is keeping you overweight, it’s your mind that has to change.
Extract from “Still Overweight? The 6-week course that changes your weight and relationship to food forever”.